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Taste of Chicago

Posted Jul 02 2010 7:32am

Can you believe today is the second day in July?

Bobby and I were talking about time the other day. It seems that when you want it to go fast, it goes slow, and vice versa. There are many things I wish would hurry up and arrive already – October, for one! – but then again, I tell myself that I should be living in the moment and enjoying every day instead of always planning for the future. It’s an endless cycle.

How do you tell yourself to just cool it already?

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to stop and enjoy life in the moment by using all five senses – but one in particular stood out. Can you guess what it is from the photo below? ;)

My business partner Jill (that’s her gorgeous self on the left) and I had the opportunity to attend Taste of Chicago for the first time ever! This is my third summer in Chicago, but I’ve never wanted to go to Taste on a weekend as I’m not a fan of huge crowds – and my weekdays often left me busy and exhausted. This year, we decided to take a weekday afternoon to explore and truly enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of all the fabulous foods and drinks the Taste has to offer.

There are streets upon streets of restaurants and vendors . Jill and I began our experience by walking up and down each of them because we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss anything! A local Taste expert told us that in order to get the most out of it, we should stick to trying foods we “can’t get down the street.” Deep dish pizza is everywhere in Chicago, for example. I wanted to make sure that the restaurants I tried were ones I had never heard of or didn’t live near, with foods that hit the spot.

First up: a stop at the Vienna Beef booth to try a Chicago-style hot dog! It sounds crazy but I still had never had an authentic one before and I thought the Taste would be the perfect excuse to try one, since I rarely eat hot dogs on my own! If you’re wondering what Chicago-style means, a true Chicago-style hot dog is a steamed hot dog topped with yellow mustard, bright green relish, onions, tomato wedges, pickle spear, peppers and a dash of celery salt served in a steamed poppyseed bun.

The Taste has bite-sized portions so that you are able to enjoy even more options. This was half of a hot dog – but it was FULL of flavor. I’m officially a fan of Chicago-style even though I would usually use ketchup and that’s a big no-no. ;) Eating this reminded me of Mara’s Chicago Hot Dog Tour !

Next up…

Not really a Taste, per se, but a Bud Light definitely hit the spot on a hot, sunny day!

Moving right along, our next booth stop was at Carbón , a Mexican Grill near the Chinatown neighborhood that I had never heard of before. I’m always up for trying Mexican food, especially in the form of delicious, bite-sized corn tacos that are no bigger than a silver dollar! These were super cute tequila lime chicken tacos, which I topped with a medium tomatillo green salsa.

I looooooved the flavor in these tacos! I found this great recipe from Ina Garten and hope to recreate it in my own kitchen soon! Combined with the tomatillo, it really turned up the heat. :)

After the tacos, Jill and I decided we wanted one more salty food before we switched things up and went sweet. Our taste buds were deciding between an Indian curry, pad thai, crab rangoon and more, but ultimately, we decided barbecue was the way to go and paid a visit to Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs .

The sandwiches were bigger here, so we split a barbecue pulled turkey. It was phenomenal! The turkey was moist – which is sometimes hard to do – and the barbecue sauce was perfectly smoky and not too sweet. Maybe they should try recreating it with a little Humbecue ? ;) Only time will tell.

After we had finished with the savory courses, we walked around the streets a bit more to do some exploring, passing by Buckingham Fountain and taking in the splendor of the city on a sunny summer day. I have such a love-hate relationship with Chicago weather! When the skies are blue, it’s almost possible to forget that the cloudy days outnumber the sunny days here. ;)

Then it was time to embrace the sweet! There were so many options to choose from, everything from beignets to cheesecake to fudge brownies. In the end, I decided to have the whole color wheel when we visited the Original Rainbow Cone ! If you aren’t aware of what makes up a rainbow cone, I found this delicious diagram from their website to help shed some light:

When I was younger, I always had orange sherbet. It wasn’t even a question! As I got older, I embraced Neapolitan, a mix of chocolate and strawberry. Combine that with pistachio ice cream and Venetian vanilla with cherries and walnuts – and you’ve got yourself the most amazing cone imaginable.

Talk about nostalgia. I can’t even remember the last time I went out for an ice cream cone, let alone one that incorporated all of my favorite flavors. Hands down the best decision I made at the Taste!

We left that afternoon with our bellies perfectly full, or taste buds sufficiently satiated and a little bit more vitamin D on our shoulders and cheeks. An epic summer day, if I do say so myself.

Do you have a “Taste” in your city? What neighborhood foods do you enjoy most?

The holiday weekend is upon us! I hope that you have some fun planned for the 4th with fireworks, grill marks and sunscreen – but not necessarily all together. ;) Tell me what you’re up to this weekend!

I will have the Insanity recap for you at the end of the week or beginning of next. Until then, I’m heading up north to Minnesota (where I’m originally from) to get in some fun time with Bobby’s family on a lake. Tubing, water sports and boat rides – I am truly excited!


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